When you rent a car abroad, one of the most stressful times can be finding somewhere to park. You want somewhere that is fairly close to your destination, that is also safe, cheap and legal. We’ve put together this handy guide so that you can avoid additional costs when parking in Europe.
There are some parking laws that are not visible with lines, signs and fines, so make sure you are aware of these for the specific country you are going to before you get there. It is wise to park on the outskirts of a city or town and use public transport to get in, if you can, especially in European countries that have dead end streets.
This will save you money on parking and parking fines as well. This said, we know that this is not always convenient or possible.
For example, below are the best parking rules to know about in the most common European destinations.
Spain is particularly strict with fines for parking offences, averaging at 200 euros. There are different rules for parking on the side of the road on different days of the week.
In many towns, you can park in zones marked 1-15 in the first half of the month, and 16-31 zones in the second half. Generally, it is confusing where you can and cannot park at any one time as a tourist, so try and find somewhere that is obviously legal, such as a car park or marked space.
In France, it is illegal to park on a corner in a residential area and your car could even be impounded if you do not comply. Unlike the UK, people tend to park close to each other due to less parking availability. Drivers often leave their handbrake off so that others can nudge their car to park next to them.
Parking in areas with yellow curbs are for business and authority vehicles only. Generally, you are not allowed to park for longer than 24 hours in any one place.
In Italy, parking is free of charge on white lines. Blue badge holders can park on a single yellow line whenever they want to. Blue lines indicate you must pay to park there. A ticket must usually be displayed. Zones with a sign that reads ‘ZTL’ need authorisation to enter. Parking fines are from 40 euros.
Park in the same direction of driving on one way streets in Germany. Signs reading ‘Anwohnerparken’ or ‘Anliegerfrei’ indicate that this area is reserved for people who live in the area. You may need to purchase parking disc. They allow you to park in areas with a parking sign.
In Belgium, you must park on the right-hand side of the road unless it is a one way street. You cannot park within 15 metres of a tram, bus or rail stop. A yellow line in the UK indicates that you cannot stop there at certain times, but in Belgium it means you can’t park there ever.
Many drivers utilize the park and ride services as the city centres gets very busy with trams, cyclists and tourists. In more remoted areas, Amsterdam has a digital parking system. You enter your driving license and can pay with your bank card.
Firstly, parking lines are varied and confusing. A parking in Spain will have a different meaning to the same parking line in France. You can see how parking in Europe can become a difficult thing to navigate.
In France, blue lines mean that you can park there for one hour free of charge, Monday to Saturday. In Italy, a blue badge or parking ticket must be on show.
Italy has a unique parking line – pink. This indicates a place where pregnant women or parents with young children can park without restriction.
When interpreting parking signs, numbers, shapes and colours are what to look out for. Luckily, these tend to mean the same thing in countries across Europe. For example, red tends to mean restriction, warning or danger. This is the case whether you are in Italy, Spain, UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France and Netherlands. The signs for no parking or stopping are also the same.
If you do get a parking ticket, you usually have 60 days to pay it. Car rental companies may add additional admin fees. Parking fines do not affect your insurance policy.
If you are driving to a busy city, town or somewhere you have not parked before, make sure you take out car hire excess insurance to stop yourself from accumulating untimely charges if something goes wrong.